By Dave Johnson
With four players returning to the lineup from injury or illness the Washington Wizards had more help in Orlando, but oddly enough it didn’t seem to help. Instead the Magic ended their eight-game losing streak with a 97-92 win over the Wizards.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
The Wizards are now 3-11 against teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings. It is a strange phenomenon in a season when the Wizards have had success against several of the NBA’s elite teams. To add to the mystery the Wizards are a good defensive team, but they struggled to deal with the Magic in the first half.
The Magic at one point led by 16 points in the first half and at halftime enjoyed a 58-46 advantage. From the floor the Magic shot 51 percent and scored 34 of their 58 first half points in the paint. In short the Wizards were outplayed by a Magic team that started three rookies and lost Jameer Nelson in the first quarter to a sprained ankle.
“We lost it in the first half. We just came out and went through the motions in the first half and gave them a lot of confidence going into halftime. For whatever reason, I can’t figure out how to get our team to come out against teams. They’ve lost eight in a row. They’re going to go on a five game road trip. But, you’ve got to come out right from the start and jump on it.”
The Magic were led by second-year player Tobias Harris who for the second straight game set a career-high with 30 points. John Wall led the Wizards with 35 points, but he attempted a career-high 28 field goals and at times appeared to be trying to do too much. Wall made 11 of his field goal attempts and was 12 of 14 from the line.
Things did get better for the Wizards in the second half. At the start of the third quarter the Wizards pounced on the Magic for a 16-2 run to take a 62-60 lead. The defensive intensity by the Wizards that was missing in the first half surfaced over the final two quarter when the Magic scored only 39 points and were held to 34 percent shooting from the field.
Martell Webster was back after missing two games with an abdominal strain and added 19 points. Trevor Ariza who had been out with the flu and A.J. Price sidelined ten games with a groin injury played against the Magic. Jason Collins ( flu) dressed, but did not play on Friday.
“I don’t think anybody had a good performance. We lost. These are the games, if we’re going to get to that next stage of being a good team…it’s over and over again this year that we just go through the motions against teams like this, and it costs you. It costs us how many games this year has it been? And now you’re looking at a whole different scenario, but that’s what good teams do. Good teams do that. We’re not a good team because we’re not doing that.”